The Blues were shutout at home by the Kings on Tuesday night. Their flight to Chicago was forced to land in Milwaukee because of fog, and the team didn’t arrive at their hotel until nearly four o’clock in the morning.
Plenty of excuses.
But two big points in the division were on the line, and a rivalry game needed to be played in front of a national television audience.
In the opening period, the Blues looked like a team that had a list of excuses to choose from. Chicago scored five times and chased starting goaltender Brian Elliott from the crease twice. Rookie Marko Dano opened the scoring with his first as a member of the Blackhawks.
Alexander Steen scored 54 seconds later to tie the game, but from there the first period was dominated by the Blackhawks. Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Kane would all score before the first intermission and the Hawks took a 5-2 lead to the room.
Unfortunately, the game still consisted of three periods. And the Hawks took the second stanza off.
The Blues, predictably, came out finishing their checks and the Blackhawks appeared to mentally put the game in neutral after owning the first period. Corey Crawford allowed three unanswered goals in the second, with David Backes tying the game with 33 seconds left in the second period. If the Blues were embarrassed in the first, they showed a lot of resolve in the second.
Perhaps the biggest improvement for the visitors was Jake Allen taking over between the pipes. He was flawless late in the first and through the second as his team rallied in front of him.
But the hitting caught up with them. Steve Ott was one of a few Blues skaters to take a run at Brent Seabrook in the second, and he suffered what was reported to be a potentially serious arm injury late in the second. He was helped to the room and did not return for the third.
Nine players between the two teams had a multi-point night before the third period began. So, of course, the scoring never developed in spite of a couple early period Steen penalties. And on to 3-on-3 overtime they went.
And with 66 seconds remaining in overtime, Vladimir Tarasenko ended the game. With the Blues coming back from a three-goal deficit after the first period, with little sleep, the night after being shutout at home.
The last time the Blues overcame a three-goal deficit to defeat the Blackhawks? 1981.
After we called him out earlier this week, Shaw had a strong performance. He won seven of nine at the dot and posted two points – tripling his season output to date – with a goal and an assist in 15:17 on the ice. Shaw was not credited with a hit on the game, but stayed out of the penalty box.
Jonathan Toews won 18 of 27 faceoffs in 22:57, but was minus-two in the game. Teravainen had two points in 19:58 while being credited with just two shots on net. Kane finished the game tied for the team lead with Viktor Svedberg with five shots on net. Kane skated 24:50.
Dano skated only 8:53 but was credited with two blocked shots and one hit. The shift that led to the game’s opening goal was impressive from the entire “kid line.” Ryan Hartman made a good, strong play with the puck to set Dano up for the score; Hartman blocked one shot and was credited with two hits and one takeaway with the first period assist.
Three Hawks defensemen – Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk – skated more than 24 minutes in the game. Trevor Daley (12:47) and Erik Gustafsson (12:33) were the lowest ice time recipients in the loss; Svedberg skated 19:05.
Crawford finished the night with six goals allowed against 29 shots. He has had better nights – many this season – and the second period was one he’d undoubtedly like to forget.
Allen allowed one goal, a power play goal to Kane immediately after coming into the game (again) late in the first period, against 28 shots over the final 46 minutes.
The Hawks host the Devils at the United Center on Friday night.